Parents' Guide to

Tumble & Fall

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

End-of-the-world story doesn't live up to its premise.

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Alexandra Coutts has written a catastrophe story that doesn't in any way focus on the widespread chaos that would befall Earth if a huge asteroid were about to strike it. There's no page-turning immediacy and no pulse-pounding scenes of masses trying to escape or survive (The 5th Wave this is not). Instead, Coutts offers a more thoughtful, gentle tale of how three very different teens deal with their own last week on Earth. By setting the book mostly on the lovely New England island of Martha's Vineyard, Coutts doesn't bother with too much of the horrors going on in the rest of the world.

What starts out as a promising idea fails to live up to the grand premise, though, mostly because the three narratives are so unevenly developed, and the three characters' choices are often so difficult to understand. Instead of it seeming romantic that Zan would leave her parents to go on a mission to find out if the perfect, genius surfer poet Leo cheated on her, it's horrifying (at least from an adult perspective) that she'd just up and leave her parents (who are busy creating one last piece of art for the apocalypse). Sienna's desire to find love -- however misguided and certainly brief -- is slightly more palatable, but Caden's crazy story with his rich, estranged father never really works. To make a story about the possibility of The End work, an author needs to make you care. And, although Coutts isn't a bad writer, the slow pace and the characters' incomprehensible decisions make it difficult to invest in this story.

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